Monday, February 18, 2019

The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: DANCING

For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann.

I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?
In January I wrote about: apron, bar, basketball, bed, bicycle, birthday, boat, broom, button, cake, car.

Here are February's prompts: chair, chlorine, church, concert, cookbook, couch, dancing, desk, dessert, dining room table, diploma.


For a brief moment in time, I was a ballerina. I remember the white tights and black leotard; the soft pink shoes and how they whisper-slid along the hardwood studio floors. I stood with half a dozen other little girls at the bar as a teacher showed us five basic feet positions. My arms and legs felt warm and elastic, and I knew I was a three-dimensional being. It was as if I existed as a bubble of energy as we watched ourselves in the long wall of mirrors on the opposite side of the room. When my teacher told me I had a dancer's neck, I really sank in: I would be a real dancer someday – one who wears toe shoes.

That never happened. As with so many of my dreams, this one was cut short when our family moved to another town, and I was forced to leave behind the dance classes. On the upside, this gave me an opportunity to try and learn new things -- like baton twirling and horseback riding. But my fasciation with dancers has continued. One of my favorite books in recent years was an out-of-print bookstore-sale find DANCERS ON DANCING, edited by Cynthia Lyle.  You can read my post that includes excerpts here

I've written a few poems about dancers or dancing, including "Audrey Hepburn a the Dance Studio," which appears in my out-of-print poetry book for adults THE COLOR OF LOST ROOMS. (Audrey was a dancer before she fell into acting.) And "The Last Poem" which appeared last year as part of ARTSPEAK! Harlem Renaissance, in which dancing becomes metaphor for poetry. I can relate to the dancers in the James Van Der Zee photograph!

Side note: This past weekend I was introduced to The Alexander Technique for actors and dancer and all performers. It's about our relationship with our bodies, and how we carry anxiety. As someone who does public speaking, and now as a cellist, I found it fascinating! I'll be doing some more reading and researching about it in the coming weeks.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the video link to the Alexander Technique - it sounds like a boon to the back, joints & ailments of the seated such as writers.

    And I appreciate your child yearning to dwell in ballet, but as someone whose cousin's toes were forever ruined by following the frilly path as a child to go up on pointe & then not make the cut - glad you escaped all that.

    The butterfly prompts look deceptively simple - your responses are enticing, especially "Desk" posted at the site but on a different day.

    Happy weekend there with your family on the lake!


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